5 Underrated Japanese Snacks
When it comes to Japanese snacks, sweet and salty treats like Pocky, Pretz, and even matcha flavored KitKat have gained legions of dedicated fans worldwide. Given the popularity of these snacks, it’s certainly easy to overlook classic snacks that still remain popular in Japan. Let’s take a look at five underrated Japanese snacks that deserve your attention. You’ll be able to find these treats in convenience stores, supermarkets and even on the basement level of department stores, so keep an eye out for them while you’re exploring Japan.
A classic Japanese snack that will make you wonder why you waited so long to try is Kaki Pi or Kaki no Tane. Both refer to the same snack: peanuts (pi) and crescent shaped rice crackers coated with a slightly spicy soy sauce seasoning. Kaki refers to the Japanese word for persimmon, whose seeds (tane) the rice cracker bits resemble. This snack goes perfectly with alcoholic or carbonated drinks and is available in many flavors that evoke a sense of Japan. Be on the lookout for wasabi (Japan's notoriously spicy green paste) and shiso (a flavorful leaf with a bold flavor).
One reason why classic Japanese snacks are so great is that they use few ingredients yet deliver when it comes to flavor. Okaki is one such snack. Made only from rice and seasoned with soy sauce or salt, okaki are crispy and crunchy treats packed with flavor in each bite. Okaki are made from mochi, or rice cakes, that have been cut into small pieces, then deep fried, making them an excellent snack to have on hand when you’re binge watching the latest J-drama or anime.
Also known as imo (potato) kenpi, these snacks are made from sweet potatoes cut into long strips and then fried. Originating from Kochi Prefecture, on the small island of Shikoku, kenpi have become one of Japan’s most popular snacks. While they resemble golden french fries straight out of the fryer, their texture and taste are completely different. Kenpi are sweet and crunchy treats that will have you reaching for more and more until your bag is empty!
A sticky, sweet snack that comes in everything from classic brown sugar (kokuto) to apple pie, karinto are deep fried pieces of dough that are sure to be a hit with anyone that has a sweet tooth. While it is an old school treat hundreds of years old, karinto remains a favorite across generations in Japan. With a incredible assortment of flavors available, you’re bound to have fun taste-testing the many varieties of karinto.
Deceptively simple yet tasty, Tamago Boro are round bite-sized snacks that pair well with nearly any drink. They are made from a few ingredients, are lightly baked, and melt in your mouth instantly. These egg biscuits are a popular snack for children, so if you’re in need of a gift from Japan for little ones, pick up a few bags of Tamago Boro. Don’t forget to buy a few for yourself!